Barbara Walters: A Legendary Journalist’s Retirement Journey

Barbara Walters, the iconic journalist, knew when it was time to make a change. During her 16th season on “The View,” Walters discreetly asked ABC executive Anne Sweeney to jot down the year 2014 on a piece of paper while they were having lunch together. It was March 2013, and Walters had just returned to the talk show after facing several health challenges, including a fall and a battle with chicken pox.

A few months later, Walters inquired about the paper and revealed to Sweeney that 2014 would be the year she planned to retire from her illustrious broadcasting career. She had made her decision. At first, the network feared losing the pioneering newswoman who co-created and co-hosted “The View,” one of its most successful and controversial shows since 1997.

However, as time went on, Walters’ health continued to decline, and it became evident that the 84-year-old legend could not continue working. Setoodeh, in his 2019 book “Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of ‘The View,’” recounted a day when Walters collapsed into the arms of a stage manager just as the show ended. She had to be rushed to the greenroom, where she was placed on a sofa, and the paramedics were called.

Walters was worried that news of her being carried on a stretcher would end up in the papers. Nonetheless, she agreed to see a doctor and miraculously returned to the set the next morning as if nothing had happened. Her resilience and determination shone through.

As Walters’ retirement drew near, celebrations commenced. ABC aired a two-hour primetime special that chronicled her illustrious career. The network’s news division went a step further by renaming its Upper West Side headquarters the Barbara Walters Building. Even original “View” co-hosts, Meredith Vieira and Star Jones, returned to the show to honor and celebrate Walters’ 17th and final season.

Finally, in May 2014, Walters bid farewell to her audience in an emotional episode featuring special guests Hillary Clinton, Michael Douglas, and Oprah Winfrey. As she said her goodbyes, Walters expressed her excitement to take a deep breath and fully enjoy her view.

Walters didn’t fade into the background for long, though. She made sporadic appearances as a guest co-host in 2014 and 2015 before finally settling into retirement. Her impact on television journalism is immeasurable, leaving an indelible mark on the industry.

Now, at the age of 93, we remember and celebrate the incredible life and career of Barbara Walters, the extraordinary journalist who revolutionized talk shows and news reporting. Let us cherish her legacy and the trail she blazed for future generations of broadcasters.